Showing posts with label viet cong. Show all posts
Showing posts with label viet cong. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

album review: 'new material' by preoccupations

So at least for me it's been difficult to tell exactly where Preoccupations have been going with their music. The transition from the crushing, grinding riffs of Viet Cong to their self-titled record under this name came with a sonic shift towards a more synth-infused, drone-like post-punk that was brighter and didn't quite feel as implacable as their debut, or as wiry at tight as what most of the group was doing with their previous band Women. And yeah, it wasn't a bad shift but it led to tonal choices that didn't always seem to cleanly match their compositions - a potent listen, but misshapen around the edges, and definitely transitional.

But it looked like Preoccupations was going to keep on shifting, with the songwriting turning introspective and the tones reportedly sounding even brighter and more melodic. And I'll admit that I wasn't at all sure how this would turn out - part of losing that impact was why their last record hadn't resonated quite as well, and while there had been some influences reminiscent of The Cure I didn't exactly see Preoccupations making any strides towards pop. But hey, if this was a record looking to hit rock bottom with better tunes than ever before, I'd give it a listen, so what did I find on New Material?

Friday, September 23, 2016

video review: 'preoccupations' by preoccupations

Well, this was an interesting listen. Not sure it was a great one, but it was interesting - some solid post-punk, generally enjoyable.

Next up, I'm finally tackling that Whiskey Myers record before I get to AlunaGeorge. Then, if my luck holds, I should be close to being back on schedule - stay tuned!

album review: 'preoccupations' by preoccupations

So let's talk about something I don't think I've ever discussed in a review before: band names. A good name helps a band stand out, can occasionally set the tone of the music you're about to experience, can evoke a certain atmosphere and personality. For instance, one of my all time favourite band names is for the anarchist punk band Chumbawamba - it evokes curiosity, it definitely stands out, and it's got a sort of gleeful irreverence that really characterizes the wit and character of the group.

But really, the big story tied to this act is band name controversies, when a certain act calls themselves something - let's say Viet Cong in this case - and discovers that if they want to play the liberal college circuit across the United States, such a name might drive a backlash. Not going to lie, this controversy irritates the hell out of me, and not just because I could point to a slew of bands in punk, post-punk, and metal who have names with far more dark and disturbing connotations - look up what Joy Division means some time, I dare you. And while I could go on how saying 'Viet Cong is offensive' propagates a simplistic and US-centric view of the far more complicated Vietnam War, where there was considerable moral ambiguity on both sides, or how even if it was inappropriate and offensive it completely fit the dark, pummeling tone of the band's music... but it's not like the group made any of those arguments. Instead, the Canadian group shot themselves in the foot repeatedly during interviews by pleading ignorance and all sorts of nonsense, and since they obviously weren't about to do anything more interesting with the name and concept and wanted to continue making money, they eventually just gave in and changed their name to Preoccupations. Not a bad choice - not as punchy as 'Viet Cong', but it did fit the sort of detached bleak melancholy that ran through their compositions, so I won't hold it that much against them. In any case, this allowed them to get away with a second self-titled album with the new name - with a part of me kind of thinks is cheating a bit - but whatever, how is Preoccupations?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

video review: 'viet cong' by viet cong

Well, that'll probably be it for album reviews until after MAGFest, but I think I might just have time to get one more Billboard BREAKDOWN in... stay tuned!

album review: 'viet cong' by viet cong

So I've talked before about how various musicians in indie rock have a reputation for having multiple projects running simultaneously in order to try out different styles and sounds or simply find the one that manages to catch fire. The funny thing is that in the age of the Internet, acts can very quickly build an underground cult following, and with sites like Pitchfork covering many of these projects, it means that critical acclaim can befall an act without sales or additional popularity coming along. And if the artists want to move along and try new things, it can mean they leave their fanbases hungry for more and following after whatever these artists try to assemble next.

And the more I started digging into Canadian indie rock group Viet Cong, the more I expected that some of the hype surrounding this band was coming from this phenomenon. Two members of the group, drummer Michael Wallace and bassist Matthew Flegel were previously from the critically acclaimed art rock group Women, who briefly made a splash in the late 2000s with two pretty damn great records before breaking up midtour, which took a jangly lo-fi yet exceptionally melodic and hook-driven sound and paired it with skeletal production that drew comparisons to a darker, more stripped-down Beach Boys or especially The Velvet Underground. As such, I could definitely see the interest now being taken in Viet Cong - even though that band was advertising their sound as having a much stronger post-punk influence. But hell, I like post-punk, so I made sure to give Viet Cong's self-titled debut a couple deep listens - what did we get here?